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Rewilding the Church [9780715209813]

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Following on from his bestselling The Invisible Church, Steve Aisthorpe finds inspiration for his new book in the ecological concept of rewilding, an approach to the environment that allows nature to break free from the dulling effects of strategic control and bring wonder back into our lives. Applying this thinking to the Church, Steve Aisthorpe imagines what might happen if we put less faith in our strategies and plans, which inevitably depend on our own capabilities and resources, and allow the Spirit to lead us beyond our capacity to imagine. Rewilding the Church explores afresh the compelling invitation of Jesus to 'Follow me' and the call to 'throw off everything that hinders and entangles'. It poses provocative questions and issues a call to contribute to the great rewilding of the Church - and to be rewilded ourselves. The same human instincts that have disrupted our natural environment have also constrained and domesticated the Church and Rewilding the Church commends a rediscovery of the adventure of faith. Steve Aisthorpe is one the freshest and most original voices in the church today.

PREACH REVIEW:
In spite of its sylvan-style cover, with trees and wildlife surrounding a church, this book is not about grasshoppers in the graveyard or frogs in the font, but about ‘rewilding’ the Church along the same lines as rewilding the environment. It’s about putting some oomph into our churches and our Christian lives. It addresses any who ‘have an intense ache ... for a profound impact in their communities’, and it seeks to provide an antidote to churches whose members ‘cling on to an archaic, monocultural ritual’. Yes!

The prayer in chapter one, in the name of ‘the wild Messiah’, fired me up to put my shoulder to the wheel. The problem I had, however, was finding the wheel. The book is slow to start, and throughout it has lengthy illustrative passages that rather take over from its main purpose. In the course of reading, I now know more than I did about climbing sheer rock-faces, re-introducing white-tailed eagles, paragliding, restoring a country estate, mudflats .... (this author has had an exciting life). Interesting though these were, I started to find them tiresome when I wanted to cut to the chase.

The ‘wheel’ is there, and my shoulder still longs to connect with it, but I remain vague about how to achieve that. The author makes some excellent and perceptive points about seeking God’s will, relishing change and personal growth, simplicity, multiple meetings that ‘consume too many people- hours’, ‘regulatory complexities’, and the need for church members to doubt and question. One main piece of advice, though, that many have rewilded by disengaging from ‘congregational life’, and have embraced the ‘invisible church’ sounds risky. It might be fine if one lives in a community where one can team up with like-minded Christians to fellowship and study, but particularly at a time of pandemic, and also in small rural settlements, it is impracticable. I’d love to start rewilding, but I just can’t see how. There is some pure gold in the penultimate chapter, but one still has to wade through e-coli, blue whales, Indian balsam and Scottish mink in order to find the excellent advice it offers. Some bullet points would have made all the difference.

Anyone who is frustrated with church life and longing to see Kingdom growth – not in terms of numbers in church, but in Christian action, and God’s love reaching out into communities – will benefit from considering what this author has to say. The Church needs this book; I just wish its message could have been made more succinctly.

Preach magazine review by Susan Thorne, a published author and long-established Methodist local preacher, passionate about social justice, ecumenism and the environment.
AUTHOR: STEVE AISTHORPE is a Mission Development Worker for the Church of Scotland. He has written a number of texts for Bible Reading Fellowship and was previously Executive Director of the International Nepal Fellowship.

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SKU:
9780715209813
UPC:
9780715209813
Availability:
Delivery Usually In 6-15 Working Days
Author:
Steve Aisthorpe
Publisher:
Saint Andrew Press
Publication:
30-Jul-2020
Format:
Paperback
Pages:
144
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